Let’s get it runnin’ ya’ll!
Tis the season for Running! Below you’ll see my saga from the Quivering Quads 5K Trail Run. But we’ve got a lot of oterh running events coming as well…
Near St Peters…
Progress South Elementary Fun Run
Where: Progress South Elementary- 201 Knaust Rd, St Peters, MO 63376
Questions?: Contact Kathi Peters
Go, Go Gator 5K
Where: Queeny Park
More Info: https://register.chronotrack.com/r/26897%E2%80%8B
Questions?: Contact Kelly Suellentrop
Crusher Race Mud Run!!
Details at the end of this post…
“Every Trick in the Book…”
Have you ever severely underestimated something?
Not like “that coffee was hotter than I expected…”
Or “that dress was a little pricier than I expected…”
More like “that Sharknado is a helluva lot closer than I expected…”
This story (concerning the Quivering Quads 5k Trail Run that I participated in last weekend) was closer to the latter end of the spectrum.
When Jennie Miller came to me with the idea to take on a Half Marathon Trail Race, I was hesitant, but figured… what the heck?
After all, I’m an athlete. I’ve got a Full Marathon completed on my resume. And most of all, I wanted to support Jennie on her quest for a coveted 13.1 sticker to slap on the back of her car.
The distance was not the part I underestimated.
The trail part was where I totally missed the mark.
I don’t know about you, but when I think “trail”, visions of skipping children holding hands on a wide path covered in mulch with cartoon trees smiling back at them dance in my head.
Why, with a name like “Quivering Quads”, would I expect such an acid trip-like fantasy to be the reality?
I can’t say.
All I can tell you is that when race day did come, it quickly became apparent that I’d need to use every trick in the book to get to the finish line without stopping.
Here’s the saga of every trick used in said book:
Mile 1: This trail seems kind of narrow. Only room for about 2 people wide. I wonder if it opens up later on…
It doesn’t open up. It narrows up. In some place you wonder how even one person is supposed to traverse the rock-filled, mud-laden, feces-strewn, tightrope of dirt while dodging tree limbs, fallen logs and traversing creeks that cross your path. The turns are hairpin. Some of them are half a step from a sheer cliff drop off. All of them seem engineered to turn an ankle into kibbles and bits. Mind you, all of this is taking place on hills. The uphills are taxing. The downhills require additional concentration to avoid a wipeout.
It’s going to be a long day.
But my first tricks are used early.
Trick #1: Follow the leader.
I watch the more experienced trail runners in front of me.
They bounce side to side. They shift their weight. Break down their hips at low points. Stay on their toes. Choose their footing carefully. They have a rhythm and a cadence and appear to move with little effort.
I watch the guy in front of me for a half mile and copy every step. Not necessarily by choice. I can go faster, but there’s no possibility of passing him in these narrow corridors. There’s another guy right on my heels. One false move from any of us and we’ll be a human train of dominoes tumbling all over one another.
But we survive.
I’m reminded of a book I just read, “Natural Born Heroes”.
Trick #2: Hang loose.
The author illustrates that we have intuitive movement patterns built into our DNA. So when approaching a downhill with uncertain footing, you stay loose. More specifically, as you pick up speed and go with the momentum, you shift your hips to maintain control. But at the same time allow yourself to go with the flow. Let the arms flail to counter balance you. If you try to keep perfect running form with elbows in at the sides, you’re setting up for a face plant.
Don’t try to look good. Hang loose.
I’ve played follow the leader long enough. It’s time to kick this up a notch.
I make some off-trail passes to put some space between me and the cluster of humans that has formed.
Besides, if I get to the top of this mountain/hill, it’s probably smooth sailing from there.
Lol… what a silly optimistic fool.
I’ve executed my plan to perfection… perhaps too perfect.
I can see nobody in front of me. And nobody behind me.
Just me and the woods and a lime green tape marker to signify turns on the trail every 100 yards or so.
The mental game kicks up seven notches.
I’ve been watching the trail intently plotting each step carefully to maintain speed and to ensure I’m not teaching Bootcamp in a cast on Monday.
But if I don’t get my eyes up and look for the next marker, I could find myself lost in the woods in a matter of moments.
Trick # 3: Your mind is your most powerful muscle.
Despite the physical demands in front of me. The race will be won inside my head.
I get into a zone.
I’m now a professional trail runner… at least… in my head.
I’m cornering smoothly. Anticipating drops. Powering through inclines. And earning 1-Ups for every log hop.
I’ve even started closing the gap on the next closest competitor.
I’m in flow.
In the midst of the woods, in synch with the wilderness, breathing in the fresh air… for a moment, I’m totally free.
And then, as if on magical cue, a massive doe crosses my path with lightning speed and grace that I can’t begin to describe, let alone imitate.
I smile ear to ear. What a beautiful moment. I should really do this again next year.
Trick #4: Enjoy the journey.
Flash forward to about “6ish” miles.
F*** this trail! F*** this course! F*** that deer! I’m never doing this again! Ever!!
“6ish”???… Did that sign really say “6ish”???
I’ve got no GPS. I forgot my stopwatch. I got 3 hours of sleep the last two nights. And I can’t even get an accurate progress reading?
Trick #5: …Uh… I’ll get back to ya.
Here’s where it gets interesting. When you get past comfort, past moderate discomfort and range into serious discomfort and what some might define as insanity.
Here’s where the real race begins.
Backtrack to Trick #3: Your mind is your most powerful muscle.
Go to the archives CJ. What have you learned in all that study time that you can use?
Trick #6: Breathe like a champion.
Wim Hof, aka The Iceman, aka Total Bad@ss, aka bazillions of Guiness World Records holder… has climbed Everest shirtless and has run marathons in Death Valley. He credits much of his super human feats to his deep breathing techniques. You super oxygenate the body and the body does the rest.
So I take in huge gulps of oxygen. And it seems to help. Great, just keep hyper ventilating the rest of the race and you’ll be fine.
Trick #7: Be the Wolverine.
I was up late the night prior at the movies watching the new “Logan” movie.
An aging Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, isn’t as super as his younger self. He heals slower. He fights slower. But when push comes to shove, he knows how to dig even deeper for that little bit of extra to win the day.
There’s even a scene in the movie where he’s running at animal-like speed through a wooded area much like one I’m trekking now.
I am the Wolverine!
Trick #8: No Water.
Another page from “Natural Born Heroes”. In ancient times marathoners ran entire races without water. True story!
In fact, as a show of toughness, they ran the entire race with a gulp of water held in their mouth. They couldn’t swallow and had to spit it out at the finish line as proof of their feat.
Further, no one has ever died from dehydration during marathon running. But over-hydration (aka water poisoning that dilutes blood sodium concentration and causes the brain to swell) has been the cause of a number of racing deaths.
Call it foolish, call it unconventional wisdom, call it ridiculous male ego emulating the ancient marathoners of old… or whatever you want. I waved off all the water stations.
No water. Just me and the trail trying to see who flinches first.
Trick #9: Use your everything.
My legs are starting to break down.
Anthony Reed, our once hopeful substitute trainer at Bootcamp (Manchester) and a former competitive sprinter, told me the key to speed is getting the knees up high. And I combine that with a big butt kick that I observed during the most recent Olympics.
But this ain’t a sprint at this point. Every muscle in my legs has begun to ache. My ankles are asking, “Are you serious with this?”
I want to get my knees up but my feet are dragging.
So use your everything!
Swing your arms more. The legs naturally keep cadence with force generated from your arms.
Pull your core in more. Alleviate the jarring impact on your lower back by calling upon your abs.
Use your everything!
Trick #10: Embrace insanity.
“10ish Miles” reads the progress marker…
More F-Bombs… Every step an F-Bomb. F. F. F. F. F. F. F. F…
But this actually makes me laugh.
Partial hysteria? Sure. But I’m gonna use it. Anything to stop thinking about my legs for a second.
Trick #11: You’ve got 40% more.
The Navy Seals have a saying. “When you think you’re done, you’ve actually got 40% more!”
Not sure where this statistic comes from or how it’s measured.
But I start to calculate… did I think I was done 3 miles ago? 2 miles ago? Or does the 40% start now that I just thought about it?
Truth is, I’m not a trail runner. I’m not even a runner runner. I do an interval sprint once per week, I’m sleep deprived, and I’m way, way, way out of my element. I’ve put on a good show, but nobody would fault me for walking the rest of this thing.
No, I’m not a Seal.
But I’ve got at least 40% more. Maybe 40% after that if I need it.
My legs whole-heartedly disagree. But my brain calls the shots around here Legs. Onward! Mush!
Trick #12: Trick’s on me!
I can see it! The big red clock that represents the finish line! I’m gonna make it! As I make it to the top of the hill I make eye contact with the volunteers and my heart sinks. They’re pointing me to turn in the opposite direction of the finish line.
It’s the cruelest joke I’ve even been victim to. I want to cry.
My form has totally deteriorated. I’ve had a couple near falls. One actual fall. Ten jumps over creeks. One jump in a creek. Countless log jumps… and one log crawl/climb. Lol.
At one point I actually ran into a tree. I bounced off it with my shoulder and kept going like some kind of unstoppable, aimless bumper car.
I tell myself one step at a time. You’ve always got one more step.
Whatever you do, don’t stop.
And then these sadistic course designers show you the finish line… and send you back into the woods.
How far back? How much further? No way to know. Just keep going.
Trick #13: Help others to help yourself.
There’s a turnaround point somewhere up ahead. So you start seeing runners on the same path coming back in the opposite direction you’re headed.
I cheer every one of them.
Not because I’m such a good guy. But we’re all in this together at this point I figure. And we all know the finish line is not a myth at this point, no matter how far it is. So I cheer.
I’m clapping them on. Yelling “C’mon Baby! We got this!”
Some smile and nod. Some look at me like I’m crazy… because I am.
But I don’t care. Pumping them up, pumps me up. When I say, “We got this!” I’m reminding myself, “I got this.”
The pain is still real. But the positivity propels me forward.
When I finally see the red digits of the clock again, I break into a full on sprint.
Push. Finish strong. I steal two places at the end. And claim my wooden prize.
I congratulate fellow racers at the finish line who comment, “That was fun!”
I’m not sure what race they just ran, but it wasn’t the one I just conquered.
Jennie crossed a bit later, and I couldn’t possibly have been any prouder of her. Amidst the celebration we vow to do better research before entering another such contest so blindly. Lol.
But the day is ours!
It’s funny how going through hell can make you feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment at the end. But that’s how we’re wired. We rarely feel elated over feats that are easy.
Ironically, your comfort zone is bound to cause you nagging, unyielding discomfort if you stay there too long. It’s when we test our limits and arise triumphant that our magic moments happen.
Sometimes you have to pull out every trick in the book…
But if you never call upon your inner Wolverine… or your extra 40%… or your inner insanity… can you ever be sure that you really lived?
In that spirit, I’d like to invite you to an upcoming Mud Run taking place this June.
The Crusher 5k Obstacle Race: Sunday, June 25th, 2017 (Eureka, MO)
Yes, it’s a mud run.
Yes, there are obstacles.
Yes, you can walk it if you want to.
Yes, you CAN do this!
Yes, there’s beer at the finish line!
Where: Eureka, MO
When: 6/25/17 (We’re doing the 5k option at the 10AM time slot!)
Use this link to sign up with the Bootcamp Team: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-crusher-race-spring-2017-registration-31201917776?team_token=1794936-n8o31
We should get a great turn out. I’ve got lots of verbal commitments already. So get ready to get dirty and let’s crush it!!
CJ’s Book of the Week: “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk
“Skedge” for 3/13/17-3/18/17
Manchester (Class Times: Mon-Fri @ 5:30/7:00/8:30am & Satuday @ 7am)
Monday: Lower (CJ)
Tuesday: Upper (CJ)
Wednesday: Core (CJ)
Thursday: Lower (CJ)
Friday: Upper (CJ)– SPECIAL ST. PATTY’S DAY WORKOUT– WEAR GREEEN!!!
Saturday: Core (CJ)
St. Peters (Class Times: Mon-Fri @ 5:30am ONLY & Satuday @ 8am)
Monday: Lower (Derek)
Tuesday: Upper (Derek)
Wednesday: Core (Derek)
Thursday: Lower (Derek)
Friday: Upper (Derek)– SPECIAL ST. PATTY’S DAY WORKOUT– WEAR GREEEN!!!
Saturday: Core (Derek)
Get Bootcamp Xero HERE:
Owner, Operator, & “CeejEO”
St. Louis Fitness Bootcamp